CEO SUMMARY: Among hospital administrators, the popular wisdom is that their clinical lab is a cost center. This thinking leads them to consider drastic cost-management strategies that include partnering with commercial labs to manage in-hospital lab testing and the outright sale of lab outreach programs. On the other side of this debate, innovative health system
Clinical LaboratorySkip to articles
A clinical laboratory is a laboratory where tests are done on clinical specimens in order to get information about the health of a patient as pertaining to the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disease.
Clinical laboratories are at the forefront of the personalized medicine trend. However, they are also targets for cost-cutting measures by payers, and increased regulation by CMS and FDA, making the industry a challenging one in which to succeed.
Laboratory medicine is generally divided into two sections, each of which being subdivided into multiple units. These two sections are:
- Anatomic pathology: Units included here are histopathology, cytopathology, and electron microscopy. Other disciplines pertaining to this section include anatomy, physiology, histology, pathology, and pathophysiology.
- Clinical pathology, which includes:
- Clinical Microbiology: This encompasses five different sciences. These include bacteriology, virology, parasitology, immunology, and mycology.
- Clinical Chemistry: Units under this section include instrumental analysis of blood components, enzymology, toxicology and endocrinology.
- Hematology: This section consists of automated and manual analysis of blood cells.
- Genetics is also studied along with a subspecialty known as cytogenetics.
- Reproductive biology: Semen analysis, Sperm bank and assisted reproductive technology.
Credibility of medical laboratories is paramount to the health and safety of the patients relying on the testing services provided by these labs. The international standard in use today for the accreditation of medical laboratories is ISO 15189. Under their respective approaches to laboratory licensure and accreditation, many countries have legal requirements that medical laboratories must be accredited to ISO 15189. This is not true in the United States.
In the United States, there are federal and state laws that address the licensure and accreditation of medical laboratories. Accreditation is done by the Joint Commission, College of American Pathologists, AAB (American Association of Bioanalysts), and other state and federal agencies. CLIA 88, the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments, also dictate testing and personnel.
In addition, many clinical laboratories have adopted quality management programs such as Six Sigma and Lean quality to improve clinical quality, reduce turnaround time, cut costs, and boost productivity. Lean and Six Sigma are both process improvement methodologies. At a very basic level, Lean is about speed and efficiency, while Six Sigma is about precision and accuracy, leading to data-driven decisions. Lean and Six Sigma methods are finding numerous applications in anatomic pathology laboratories and pathology group practices.
CEO SUMMARY: Court documents filed in U.S. District courts in New Jersey and North Carolina provide details about how each of the two lab companies set lab test prices differently—as much as 10 times higher—for cash-paying patients than for patients who have Medicare, Medicaid, or commercial health insurance plans. In court filings, plaintiffs allege that
CEO SUMMARY: One big development affecting the health insurance business is how four of the nation’s largest health insurers are diversifying in significant ways. Last spring, a healthcare strategist explained how each of these companies has spent billions of dollars in recent years to acquire other healthcare companies that are not part of the traditional
CEO SUMMARY: In September, Alverno Laboratories, one of the largest networks of regional laboratories in the Midwest, added two Chicago hospital laboratories and six other hospital labs from the AMITA Health system to its network. The additional AMITA Health facilities joined Alverno as a result of health system consolidation. The consolidation of hospitals into health
CEO SUMMARY: Hospitals and health systems developing programs to manage patients on chronic opioid therapy (COT) are finding that an essential element of these programs is regular toxicology testing. In its role as the toxicology test provider for a health network in Indiana, AIT Laboratories of Denton, Texas, has found that COT patients improved their
CEO SUMMARY: When developing a program to identify and treat patients who misused opioids or needed chronic opioid therapy, Community Health Network (CHN) of Indianapolis recognized that clinical lab toxicology tests were one of the few sources of objective data about patient compliance. When CHN developed its Chronic Opioid Therapy (COT) program, protocols were included that
CEO SUMMARY: In a recent statement, COLA, an organization that accredits clinical labs, expressed strong concern about how a report from the Government Accountability Office did not address how the Protecting Access to Medicare Act of 2014 (PAMA) affects patients’ access to testing, especially in rural areas. COLA said its surveys of providers across the
CEO SUMMARY: Police and the district attorney have released few details about the murders of well-known clinical laboratory executive Richard Nicholson, his wife, and a family friend. The crimes were committed in Nicholson’s home in Newport Beach, Calif., and 27-year old Camden Nicholson, the family’s youngest son, was arrested as the prime suspect in this
IN RECENT DAYS, RUMORS HAVE SURFACED that UnitedHealthcare has begun to terminate the contracts it holds with a number of regional and non-national clinical laboratories.
This news surfaced just as The Dark Report went to press. Given its importance to the clinical laboratory industry, we wanted to alert lab executives and pathologists to this development as
CEO SUMMARY: No bigger threat looms over the financial security of the nation’s clinical laboratories than healthcare’s transition from fee-for-service payment to value-based reimbursement. To navigate that transition successfully, medical labs and pathology groups will need to adopt the Clinical Lab 2.0 model. Member labs of Project Santa Fe are themselves working to develop and